Toad's touring theatre

Cambridge Touring Theatre's The Wind In The Willows; Ickworth House, Bury St Edmunds, July 7. Capability Brown's magnificently manicured gardens at Ickworth House provide the perfect venue for this wonderfully rumbustious and deeply affectionate, musical adaptation of The Wind In The Willows - and, surely, no one would have enjoyed it more than its author, Kenneth Grahame.

Cambridge Touring Theatre's

The Wind In The Willows; Ickworth House, Bury St Edmunds, July 7.

Capability Brown's magnificently manicured gardens at Ickworth House provide the perfect venue for this wonderfully rumbustious and deeply affectionate, musical adaptation of The Wind In The Willows - and, surely, no one would have enjoyed it more than its author, Kenneth Grahame.

Grahame loved the countryside, and especially the river, and compiled his story about the adventures of Toad, Ratty, Moley and Badger from stories and letters he wrote to his son. The book made him his fortune and allowed him to exchange the bank job he hated for the bank life he loved - “messing about in boats” by the banks of the River Thames


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Although hijacked by adult readers, as quality young people's literature often is, Willows is, if not a children's book per se, certainly a book for children and Grahame would have approved of the Cambridge Touring Theatre's decision to play largely to the youngsters in the crowd and give a pantomime feel to the production, complete with boos and cheers, music, comedy and lashings of audience participation.

He would have also have sung the praises of Rosie Humphrey's enormously energetic seven strong cast with Barry Evans, (a dead ringer for a young Hugh Laurie), in the role of Ratty, Geraldine Allen (Toad), Piers Wehner, (Moley), and Milly Finch who not only plays Badger but also all the music, ably assisted by the two villains of the piece, Anthony Rotsa and Maeve O'Neill who play the Weasels, and Laura Jarvis as the washerwoman. And how he would have marvelled at the vocal power of all the members of the company who managed to make every word as clear as a millstream despite playing in the open air in front of what must have been more than 500 people, and without the aid of a single microphone.

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But what would have pleased him most was the sight of whole families eating their picnics, drinking, laughing and watching a wonderful performance of his finest work on a beautiful English summer's evening in precisely the type of idyllic location he loved so dearly.

The Wind In The Willows is touring at a number of prestigious homes and gardens in Cambridgeshire and Norfolk until July 15.

Peter Lockyer

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